Published On: Tue, Dec 4th, 2012

Positive impact Sambil only with growth of tourism

WILLEMSTAD — The shopping mall Sambil will have a positive impact on the economic development of Curaçao, providing the number of tourists visiting Curaçao continues to grow. If the growth fails to materialize, downtown shops could decide to move to Sambil, or these shops perhaps won’t survive cutthroat competition from downtown. This is written in the economic impact study on the arrival of the Venezuelan mega mall, according to the Dutch newspaper Amigoe. By order of the Ministry of Traffic, Transport and Regional Planning, the impact study was conducted last summer by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Expectations are that Sambil will also have an attractive affect on tourists but a condition for continued tourism growth as registered in the past few years, is that planned investments are made in the tourism infrastructure, among others a second mega pier and expansion of the airport and the number of hotels, according to the report. “If these infrastructural developments remain forthcoming the expected advantages of the Sambil-project will not be realized.”

According to the impact study, Sambil is a direct competitor for the businesses downtown because they also sell A-clothes brands.

Moreover, the Venezuelan chain offers a total concept that includes free events. One of the pillars to breathe new life into downtown is organizing events. The study also elaborates on the employment and revenues for the treasury ensuing from the Sambil-project.

According to outgoing minister Dominique Adriaens of Traffic, Transport and Regional Planning, Sambil will yield around 1000 direct and indirect jobs. Earlier on there was confusion about the number of jobs because when former minister of Traffic, Transport and Regional Planning, Charles Cooper (MAN), signed the building permit he guaranteed the project would offer 2000 jobs for Curaçao workers. Outgoing interim-minister José Jardim of Finance and Economic Development, however, estimated the number of jobs at 150 to 350, in a letter dated November 1 in which he answered questions from former parliamentarian Pedro Atacho (PAR).

According to Adriaens, it’s a ‘cumulative matter’, hence the estimation of 1000+ jobs. In conclusion the study also mentioned that the project contributes to the public funds with a cumulative increase of direct and indirect government revenues of over 25 million guilders.

“It’s very difficult to say what exactly will happen when this mega project is realized”, Minister Adriaens said on being asked. “Time will tell, but we also want to promote Otrobanda, such as developing the riff into a huge sports and recreational area, with preservation and upgrading of the stadium, the swimming pool and the Koredor. We also want to realize more houses with the relocation of the downtown hospital.” There are also plans for Punda, said Adriaens.

Contrary to what outgoing interim-premier Stanley Betrian queried last week, the Council of Ministers did see the building permit and the allotment for a ‘tax holiday’, said Adriaens. “The application for construction wasn’t published because it regards an urban area and not a zoning change of the Veeris terrain.” Nor did the Council of Ministers have to give permission for the decision because it falls under the authority of the minister concerned. Adriaens did mention there was one objection against the project.

On September 19, the store chain Sambil was granted a building permit for a huge shopping mall on a terrain in Veeris, where approx. 200 shops, a food court and a cinema will be realized. Expectations are that the mega mall will open late 2013.


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